The Public Cost of Pregnancy

This technical report documents some of the key assumptions underlying analyses described in Thomas (“Plans are Useless, But Planning is Indispensable”: A Benefit-Cost Assessment of Three Strategies to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 2010b), which presents results from a series of benefit-cost simulations of various policies designed to prevent unintended pregnancy. These simulations measure the benefits of a given policy in terms of the pregnancies that would have occurred absent the policy in question but that are assumed to have been prevented as a result of its implementation. More specifically, such benefits are measured as a function of the cost savings generated by the prevention of unintended pregnancies. This paper describes the way in which those cost savings were estimated.

The contents of this paper were also used to develop findings reported in Monea and Thomas (“Unintended Pregnancy and Taxpayer Spending.” Forthcoming in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2011), which presents estimates of total taxpayer spending on unintended pregnancy and of the amount that taxpayers would save if all unintended pregnancies were prevented. However, the discussion that follows focuses primarily on the development of estimates for the purpose of parameterizing the benefit-cost simulations.